Hate the Hate
I keep thinking, I shouldn’t write this just now. I’m too emotional; it was only a few days ago that five people were killed and 18 wounded in a Colorado LGBTQ club by yet another radicalized lunatic with an AR-15. I am furious and want to fight back. I want to crack skulls. I want to hit where it hurts.
Was it only a few days prior to that, that I was actually feeling hopeful for the future? That the election deniers in the midterms had been mostly rejected and we held the Senate. Razor thin, yes, but we still won. We lost the House, but the so-called red wave had not materialized. Then the Head Twit decided to let 45 and MTG back on Twitter. I never got that much from Twitter, so I—like many others I know—deleted my account. I hope it crashes and burns.
I feel like I did in the late 1970s, as haters like Anita Bryant hauled out the old trope that LGBTQ people want to recruit children. I feel like I did when rednecks in a pickup truck threw a bottle of beer at my head calling me a dyke bitch in the parking lot of a gay bar in 1979. I feel like I did in the 1980s, when the right refused to even care that gay people were dying of AIDS. I feel like I did in 2016 when 49 people were gunned down and 53 were wounded at Pulse nightclub in Florida. And now, they’re killing us again. But the truth is, the haters never stopped.
It could have been so much worse. The retired Army major Richard Fierro, who tackled the gunman, is a hero in my book. Hopefully, he fractured the shooter’s skull and left them brain dead, beating them bloody in the back of the head with the shooter’s own handgun, but we don’t know that yet. And it’s especially delightful to me that a transwoman stomped the shooter with her high heels. This is how viscerally angry I am: that I would delight in bloody, cracked skulls. Or worse.
Where does this leave me? I can buy merch from Mr. Fierro’s brewery. I can donate money to HRC, CAMP Rehoboth, and other organizations. I can process this tremendous anger with my therapist. As a survivor of two violent crimes in my early life and of 9/11, I have work to do.
As someone with PTSD, I know that the massacre in Colorado will affect the survivors for the rest of their lives, and it’s deeply saddening. They’ll always be looking over their shoulders, looking for the exits as soon as they arrive, and startling at loud noises. I can only hope that they can somehow reconcile the loss of their loved ones to such a senseless act of hate.
For us and our allies, we are left with holes to fill. Grief, anger, and fear. Why do they hate us so? I truly don’t understand; I never have, and I don’t know if I ever will. How much hate does it take for someone to want to kill someone else? Self defense I understand. Mr. Fierro, who also reportedly has PTSD, reacted as someone with military leadership skills is trained to do.
But he could just as easily have frozen or run. I’m just thankful that he was able to act, training or not, along with the transwoman and the other patron who helped bring that monster down.
Years ago, I saw love in action. My partner at the time and I were shopping at Macy’s in Manhattan. A woman had a screaming toddler by the arm. The mother was yelling at the child to shut up. When that didn’t happen, the woman started to go for her belt. She was going to beat that child with her belt in the middle of Macy’s. I froze. My partner, respectfully but in a loud voice, told the woman to put her belt away. Other women standing around us moved forward as a group toward the woman. Not to hurt her but to protect the child. The woman cursed at us but put her belt back on. Love, courage, doing the right thing, is contagious. It takes just one person, acting from a place of love, for it to grow.
This, at its heart, is what we must do. Be courageous, do the right thing, call out hate. This is what organizations like CAMP Rehoboth do. This is what events, like Pride, are for. It is why it’s still important to come out. To stem the hate, to educate, before hate can gain ground.
We can fill the holes of grief, anger, and fear created by this tragedy by standing together to take action against hate. ▼
Beth Shockley is a retired senior writer/editor living in Dover with her wife and five furbabies.